| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

No role for vaccine certificates in England’s initial re-opening: minister

Vaccine certificates will not be required to go to a restaurant or pub in England when they first reopen, Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi said on Tuesday, noting that no decisions had been taken on their use in the longer term.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the green light for England to take the next step in easing its third national lockdown, but gave few details on how vaccine certification would work.

Step 2 of a roadmap charting plans to gradually reopen the economy over the next months will see pub gardens and shops reopen next week, while the reopening of indoor hospitality venues in step 3 is scheduled for May.

“Domestically, the step 2, which we’re coming up to, (and) step 3, there will be absolutely no issue around restaurants or pubs requiring any form of certification,” Zahawi told Sky News.

“But it’s only responsible as we see how this virus behaves, as we see how other countries are utilizing technology to make sure that they keep the virus under control, then we should look at the same thing.”

Some MPs in Johnson’s party object to the idea that proof of COVID status could be needed to go to a restaurant or pub, saying such a system risks creating a two-tier society.

Johnson has said he expects so-called vaccine passports to have a role in international travel, but there were ethical questions about a certification scheme which only took inoculation status into account.

Zahawi said that any scheme would be designed not to be discriminatory, suggesting it would involve data on coronavirus tests, not just vaccines. But he added no decision had been taken, and MPs would get a vote on any plans.

On international travel, Johnson said he was hopeful it could restart in May, but it was too early to say for sure, adding that a taskforce would report back this week on what a reasonable plan to restart travel could look like.

The chief executive of British Airways said he was optimistic that international travel would be able to resume on May 17, the earliest possible date according to the government roadmap.

“We remain optimistic that this will happen,” BA CEO Sean Doyle told an online briefing.

  • Reuters